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Green power

German renewable power production soars

The official statistics for German power production in the first half of 2012 have just been released, and solar power production grew by a whopping 47 percent.

 -  The solar roof of the conference center in Freiburg, Germany, where Intersolar used to be held. Craig Morris
The solar roof of the conference center in Freiburg, Germany, where Intersolar used to be held. Craig Morris

The German Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW) has announced (see the press release in German) statistics for power production in the first six months of 2012, and wind power remains the biggest source of renewable electricity with a 9.2 percent share of demand, followed by biomass at 5.7 percent. But photovoltaics rose from 3.6 percent in the first half of 2011 to 5.3 percent of power supply in Q1 and Q2 2012. Overall, Germany has gotten 25.0 percent of its electricity from renewables this year, considerably more than the roughly 20 percent for 2011 as a whole.

For wind power, the weather is probably the main reason why power production rose from 7.7 percent to 9.2 percent year over year; after all, installed capacity has only risen by less than 10 percent over the past 12 months. But the situation is different for photovoltaics. In December 2011 alone, Germany installed three gigawatts, and the official figures for the first four months of 2012 put Germany at around two gigawatts. The official figures for May are not yet in, but Matthias Kurth – the former head of Germany's Network Agency, which collates the statistics – stated on a TV news talk show last week that 1.8 gigawatts of PV was installed in June alone. In other words, over the past 12 months, Germany increased its installed PV capacity by around 40 percent. And if the official figures corroborate Kurth's statement, Germany is probably well on course to set yet another new record for installed capacity in 2012.

Power consumption was reportedly down by 1.4 percent in the first two quarters of 2012, which the BDEW says was mainly the result of less production in power-intensive industries. Recently, German Environmental Minister Peter Altmaier said he doubted that Germany would be able to reduce its power consumption by 10 percent by 2020, one of his government's goals. And indeed, it remains to be seen weather Germany can do so without reducing its industrial production. (Craig Morris)

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